Jump In The Fire with Salesman

Just over a week ago, we debuted two new tracks from local dark-folks Salesman in anticipation of the release show at Holy Mountain. I hope you were there to witness the magical evening of swirling hazy otherworld-ness with Devin James Fry and Co., PPI favorites RF Shannon, and modern medicine. Salesman released the two songs on a beautiful lathe-cut 7″ record with watercolors done by Fry, his first attempt (and a successful one). Buy local. Simple yet heavy in a striking way, the cover pulls you in through the lone image in the middle, ironically looking as if rather than using watercolors, Fry burned the image into the page as a nod to the A-side: Let’s Go Jump Into the Fire. This physical process is complemented by the lathe-cut record inside. Using a primitive handmade process, each record is made individually yielding a one-of-a-kind experience–each one literally sounds different. Talk about direct marketing.

sancho-1Anyway, the songs sound beautiful and the band rocked in a meditatively heavy way. Sancho opened the evening, the new group lead by Peter Shults. Austin roots tunes fans will remember him from Hello Wheels, the harmony-driven folk stomp outfit. Sancho follows suit, though with more rock and roll like a more country-fried Tom Petty. Sancho plays drinking songs with crunchy hollowbody guitars. There’s an old 50s doo-wop rock feel crossed with 70s singer-songwriter tendencies. Grant Himmler played bass and Josh Halpern played drums, while Peter sang and played guitar. The three were solid, and strong songs can stand on their foundation, but I could hear a fuller arrangement give these songs the grand justice they deserve. Perhaps this young band awaits this fortunate fate.

If you haven’t seen RF Shannon, you’re doing yourself a disservice. I mean, they get better each time I see them, and I just rf shannon-4reaped a bounty following this drought. It had been a while since I’ve seen the group who have now added another vocalist. She also adds otherworldly ambience via singing bowls. Yes, when I first saw the bowls I may have casually squinted in confusion/rolled my eyes, but when I saw how they added to the greater mystical dynamic, I was sold. Though not always apparent, the subtle nuances resonate within the group and give them increased depth through new textures and instrumentation. Lead singer Shane has solidified his lead-man role, driving his cosmic band through dark canyons of desert solitude.

salesman-4Almost procession-like, Salesman took the stage at midnight. Devin spun Baoding balls in his hand as he yelped and growled into the holler. Combining Eastern and Western mysticism, Salesman played the shadows, balancing their exposure to the light with the safety of darkness. Grant Himmler performed for the second time this evening, joining Clay Lillard on drums in the rhythm section. We jumped and danced to Salesman’s hop and bop.

modern medicine closed the evening with a set of washed and blown out arena rockers. The band modern medicine-2almost felt too big for the room at times, in a way that’s grand and epic. Regardless, the songs were tight and the volume shook the (holy) mountain. Lead singer and self-described “shaman,” Carey McGraw stood in repose in the center of the stage as his practitioners prescribed a heavy dose of psych rock.

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